Newspaper article Roll Call

Pompeo Bill Keeps Consumers in the Dark

Newspaper article Roll Call

Pompeo Bill Keeps Consumers in the Dark

Article excerpt

Poll after poll shows that consumers want the right to know what's in their food and how it's produced. Because our food choices have such a significant impact on our lives, this is a trend that should be welcomed, not frustrated.

So it's disappointing that some members of Congress, led by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., are fighting to deny Americans the right to know whether their food contains genetically modified ingredients.

Recently, I testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health that we need a national GMO labeling system that works for farmers, food companies and consumers. The subcommittee hearing was to discuss HR 4432, Pompeo's bill. It's been dubbed the Denying Americans the Right Know Act by opponents because it does not provide for a mandatory national labeling system. Moreover, it would preempt Vermont and other states that have done what the federal government has failed to do and given their citizens the right to know what's in their food.

Whether Congress decides to block GMO labeling is about more than the right to know what we're buying and eating. It's also about consumer confusion. About 60 percent of consumers believe foods labeled "natural" are GMO-free. This misleading term means Americans can't use their buying power to reflect their values.

GMO labeling would help clear up this confusion. Advocates of GMO labeling aren't seeking a warning label. We're simply asking for a factual, non-judgmental disclosure on the back of the package.

The Food and Drug Administration already has the authority to require such disclosure and has used it in the past to address this kind of consumer confusion - but not in this case. In the absence of FDA leadership, states should be free to require mandatory disclosure.

Congress has long recognized a role for the states in food labeling, and federal law clearly does not preempt state-mandated GMO labeling. …

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